Holy sh*t. That was some Apple event.
After years of Touch Bars, butterfly keyboards (thankfully corrected in 2019), and underwhelming Intel chips, Apple is ushering a new era for its MacBook Pros with an all-new design, the return of ports like MagSafe, HDMI, and the SD card slot, and performance that is probably making Intel sweat profusely right now.
Pricing aside (come on, you knew these MacBook Pros weren’t gonna be cheap), Apple pretty much delivered the “pro” laptops everyone has been asking for. The new MacBook Pros are available for order today — starting at $1,999 for the 14-inch and $2,499 for the 16-inch — and ship next week.
New DNA — MacBook Pros have all looked exactly the same since 2016. The new MacBook Pros, available in 14- and 16-inch versions, ditch thinness for practicality. The 14-inch measures 0.61 inches thick and weighs 3.5 pounds, and the 16-inch clocks in at 0.66 inches and weighs 4.7 pounds. Jony Ive is probably freaking out somewhere at the regression in slenderness.
I like the new unibody aluminum look, straighter edges, and the raised feet. It’s like a cross between the pre-unibody aluminum MacBook Pros and the unibody ones. I wish the Apple logo lit up, though. The new MacBook Pros are available in silver or space gray.
MagSafe is back! — Why did Apple remove its ingenious magnetic charging port in the first place? Only Jony Ive knows. But whatever the reason — MagSafe charging is back and it supports fast charging. Apple says a 30-minute charge can juice the MacBook Pros up to 50 percent battery.
Ports, ports, ports — In addition to three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports on both models, the new MacBook Pros come with — gasp — an SD card slot and a full-size HDMI port. Ports that the pre-2016 MacBook Pros came with. I have been begging Apple to bring these very useful ports back for the better half of the past decade, and I am overjoyed that they’re back. Good-bye, dongles!
Extreme power — Last year, Apple announced its two-year plan to transition away from Intel chips to its own silicon. The M1 chip, first introduced in the 13-inch M1 MacBook Air, 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, M1 Mac mini, and then the M1 iMac, has been nothing short of a quiet revolution. Performance was off the charts. Battery leaped to the top, not by a little, but a lot.
The new MacBook Pros use Apple’s next-generation silicon, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Here’s a technical breakdown for the 14-inch:
And here are configurations for the 16-inch MacBook Pro:
Apple shared a ton of charts to drive home the immense performance of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The story is the same as the M1 chip: exponential peak CPU and GPU performance with immense power efficiency.
Apple says the M1 Pro chip is 70 percent faster than the M1 chip. How does the new silicon compare to a PC laptop? According to Apple: “M1 Pro and M1 Max deliver 1.7 times more performance than the latest 8-core PC laptop chip in the same power envelope.” That “8-core PC laptop? The Razer Blade 15 Advanced. Apple also says the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips do so while using “70 percent less power.” That’s all for CPU performance.
For GPU performance, the M1 Pro is two times faster than the M1, according to Apple. The M1 Max has up to four times faster graphics than the M1.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB of RAM standard and can be configured with 32GB (M1 Pro or M1 Max) or 64GB (M1 Max). The 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB or 32GB of RAM standard and can be configured up to 64GB.
Storage configurations for the 14-inch: 512GB or 1TB base, and up to 8TB additional. Storage configs for the 16-inch: 512GB or 1TB base, and up to 8TB as add-on.
Mini-LED display — The 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro was the first Apple product to use mini-LED display tech. The display tech uses thousands of LEDs behind the display to light it up for deeper blacks, richer contrast, increased brightness, and wider color gamut.
Now, the new MacBook Pro displays use mini-LED, too. Apple touts its “Liquid Retina XDR display” with 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of max brightness. The screens are also 120Hz or “ProMotion” as Apple calls it. The 14-inch measures 14.2 inches and has a 3,024 x 1,964 resolution; the 16-inch measures 16.2 inches and has a 3,456 x 2,234 resolution.
Oh, and there’s a notch in the center of the display. The MacBook Pros screens spread out closer than ever to the edge, but that notch... it at least houses a 1080p webcam. No Face ID unlock, though.
Insane battery life — Apple is claiming up to 17 hours of video playback with the Apple TV app and 11 hours of wireless web for the 14-inch; the 16-inch can get up to 21 hours of video streaming and 14 hours of wireless web.
Beefy sound — Apple continues to improve audio in its laptops. The new MacBook Pros have a six-speaker sound system which includes four woofers and two tweeters. Apple says they produce “80 percent more bass.” Additionally, the speakers support Spatial Audio. There’s also a three-mic array for clearer voice quality.
Premium price — The new MacBook Pros sound like a nerd’s dream. But they don’t come cheap. The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 and the 16-inch starts at $2,499. The most expensive 16-inch maxes out at $6,099! These prices are already upsetting many people, but if you’re a professional who relies on a MacBook Pro for a living, these machines quickly pay for themselves.